July 1, 2000
After years of waiting and rumors, Chevrolet introduced a remarkable new ultra-performance Corvette that paid homage to two different legendary designations of Corvette's past: A new model called Z06, powered by a new Gen III small-block named LS6. Chevrolet no longer had to hide its racing involvement like it did in the early days of the Vette, and the factory-backed C5-Rs were beginning their winning ways. The return of the celebrated marque to racing, and Z06 and LS6 designations to production, were Chevrolet's way of honoring the efforts of the late, great Mr. Duntov and the racing legacy he began-and the new Corvette Z06 couldn't have been more perfect. Quite simply, the '01 Z06 was the quickest and best handling production Corvette ever.

The 2001 Z06
As good as the C5 was, engineers found plenty of room for improvement. On the surface the Z06 didn't look radically different, but there was hardly a piece in the drivetrain or suspension that has not been tweaked, massaged, or replaced. The Z06 was offered only in the lighter and more rigid hardtop body, and the engineers went to great lengths to reduce weight to make the most of the Z06's extra horsepower and more refined suspension.

The LS6 cranked out a very drivable 385hp and 385 ft-lbs of torque, with a 6,500 rpm redline. The '01 Z06 could run four-second 0-60s and 12.6 in the quarter-mile at 113mph, and the engine borrows its designation from the powerful LS6 454/425hp big-blocks found in less than 200 '71 Sharks. The '01 LS6 was mated to a Z06-specific M12 six-speed transmission with more aggressive gearing.

The '01 Z06 was the first mass-production car to receive a titanium exhaust system, previously found only on supercars like the McLaren F1, and weighing 19 pounds less than the standard stainless steel exhausts.

As standard equipment, the Z06 got features like second-generation Active Handling and four-wheel ABS brakes, plus upgrades like a new FE4 suspension system that included a larger, hollow front stabilizer bar, stiffer rear spring, revised camber and shock settings for better high-speed control, and 1-inch wider-than-standard forged aluminum wheels, wrapped in P265/40ZR-17 and P295/35ZR-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 SCs. All of this added up to 1.0g capability on a skidpad. The Z06's most distinguishable exterior feature from the preceding C5 hardtops were the functional front air inlets and rear brake cooling ducts.

Tom's Treasures
In the fall of 1962, with rumors of the wonderful new Corvette floating about,Tom Atchison decided he needed to have one. But why settle for an "average" Corvette? If Tom was going to buy a brand-new Sting Ray, he was determined to get the very best one available. So he ordered himself a Z06.A couple weeks before Easter of 1963, Tom took delivery of his new toy from Jack Schwirtz Chevrolet of Elizabeth, Illinois.

If only our story were so simple, because the Fates stepped in and dealt Tom a more complicated hand. You see, that was Tom's first '63 Z06. Late in the night of Good Friday, after a mere two weeks of ownership, Tom dozed off briefly at the wheel of his Z06 while making a long drive home, and went straight while the road curved to the right. Tom didn't suffer any major injuries, but the poor Vette was destroyed.